LTTE ignored President’s call to surrender
and save themselves

One month prior to May 18, the final day of the war against the LTTE, the government announced a 48-hour ceasefire to coincide with the Sinhala and Tamil New Year of April 2009.

The LTTE rejected the ceasefire, even though its leadership was on the run by this time. The President’s office ordered the troops not to fire unless fired upon but "to remain defensive" during the period of the ceasefire, which the government observed notwithstanding the LTTE’s rejection.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appeal to the LTTE, to allow the Tamil civilians forcibly kept under their fire-power to "celebrate these festivities in a suitable atmosphere" were unfortunately trampled upon by the LTTE leadership.

Simultaneously, President Rajapaksa reiterated his offer to the Tigers that they could save themselves from annihilation by laying down their weapons and surrendering rather than continue in their suicidal mission.

The LTTE refused to surrender, even though the offer was made by no less an authority than the President himself. Unfortunately, we do not find these matters in any of the reports sent out to foreign powers by vested interests here.

There was also at this time, an Indian initiative through the then pro-LTTE, Tamil National Alliance, to encourage the LTTE leadership to accept the President’s offer which was also sidelined by the LTTE.

The final result of the LTTE’s intransigence was that the war went on to a finish thereafter with the LTTE leadership committing hara-kiri.

What is it that, the then Army Commander is talking of now, as if a ‘ceasefire’ was in operation in the final days of the war?

This country must be ashamed to hear former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, then in China on a tour, come out now with utterances against those with whom he jointly fought to annihilate the LTTE – statements devoid of the truth!

Fonseka’s alleged statement to a weekly, while being grossly inconsistent with well-established order of events, gives however the impression that if he were Commander-in-Chief, he would not have hesitated to even stop the war to allow Nadesan, Pulidevan, and Ramesh to surrender with or without laying down the weapons.

What if they were on a suicide mission? What if they were on a mission to infiltrate, knowing well the LTTE had rejected the ceasefire and the call to surrender, just a month earlier?

What is most revolting is that the then Army Commander is quoting an unknown journalist to level a palpably hyped-up claim against war heroes Major-General Shavindra Silva and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

The Island editorial of December 14 has appropriately described the latest allegation of Sarath Fonseka against Maj-Gen Shavindra Silva and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as a betrayal of the Army that Fonseka led.

It is a disgrace that Fonseka is ready to do what he has already done entirely out of personal animosity and malice. He has joined hands with his worst critics in the country, who disgraced him when he was Commander. Now he is ready to twist facts and circumstances which never existed, and betray those with whom he achieved credibility as a soldier. He is now discrediting himself to achieve power.

I have no expertise in military matters. But surely, the then Commander of the Army ought to have known that his men were at war with the crucial top leadership who were all armed to the teeth and in battle, having rejected earlier on, the ceasefire and rejected the President’s call to lay down their arms and surrender! It would be ridiculous for anyone to expect in the final hours of the war, for Maj-Gen Shavindra Silva or anyone else to stop the fire and roll out a red carpet for anyone, when in fact there was no ceasefire in place.

But what is relevant is that General Fonseka’s statement falls in line with what he was reportedly asked to do by certain US officials, during Fonseka’s recent visit to the US. The Daily Mirror of October 31, 2009, reported that the then Chief of Staff, General Fonseka, had been asked by US officials to give evidence against Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa over alleged human rights abuses.

It looks clear that Fonseka must have agreed to this request though the Daily Mirror report did not reveal Fonseka’s response to the US request.

It is quite possible that Fonseka may have been offered a ‘conditional pardon’ from being prosecuted on war crime charges if he would give evidence against key players in the Rajapaksa regime.

What is shameful in this is to allow oneself to become corrosive tools in the hands of external forces to destabilise Sri Lanka, at a time when the country is getting set to reactivate itself on the economic front. But this may not be a surprise to those in the opposition, who cried foul and threatened HSBC, when Sri Lanka tried to raise from the bank, during an earlier stage of the war, US$500 million to fund purchase of arms and ammunition.

In his personal profile, published in a Sunday weekly, General (Rtd) Sarath Fonseka credits himself with introducing counter insurgency and deep penetration tactics to crush the LTTE.

Today, Fonseka is working hand-in-glove with those responsible for the destruction of the deep penetration unit at Millennium City. What prevents him from betraying his soldiers, colleagues and political leaders by joining hands with external forces keen on prosecuting Sri Lankan leaders and soldiers for alleged war crimes?

(The writer is a former Member of Parliament and can be contacted at mm_zuhair@yahoo.com)

M. M. Zuhair, P. C.

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